ZZZZ | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago's ZZZZ is an unusually difficult band to describe because its music is such a crazy hybrid: the quartet wraps polka-worthy beats and psychedelic keyboards around lurching math-rock time changes, fills in the foregrounds with swirling, klezmeresque sax, and bases its licks on dark minor and penta-whatever scales, which makes me wonder if they've been listening to Rom wedding music on top of everything else. The music evokes tragedy, terror, and a perverse sense of fun--ex-Sweep the Leg Johnny saxophonist Steve Sostak in particular has a bug-eyed, menacing stage presence. The lyrics aren't very interesting, but that's not the point: the sharp tag-team girl-boy vocals turn the words into another opportunity for fun-house rhythmic play. Their debut album, Palm Reader (Polyvinyl), has been my wake-up disc of choice every morning since it fell into my hands; if I were filming a biopic about Pee-wee Herman, I'd have these geeks working on the sound track before I even started looking for child actors. Weather and Indian Jewelry open. Mon 3/28, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Martha Williams.

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